Saturday, 18 August 2012

Killybegs: White-winged Hotspot

During the time I was dead I decided to go to the famous white-winged hotspot of Killybegs - renowned across the world as one of the best place to see these fabled creatures I wasn’t to be disappointed!!! As a bonus the town is also highly regarded for 1yoyo hamburgers.

Off I set from Sunny Newcastle, Co. Down, in my Panzerkampfwagen IV, making good time in taking only 3 days to get there. A few hiccups along the way included accidentally driving over a peasants house in Ballynahinch and having to take a slight detour near Fintona to fire 75mm shells at some sheep.

 Above: Spindle Ermine

Arriving at the outskirts of Killybegs around 10.30pm first stop was the roof of the fish factory - a sure fire bet to clap eyes on a couple of white-wingeds. Looking at the weather the night before, in between medicinal doses of pornography, I wasn’t too sure I would see much. ‘You’re not in, you don’t win’, I said to myself and I sallied forth regardless. As luck would have it the lights were turned on just as I arrived and sure enough the roof was, quite literally, littered with white-wingeds. I needn’t have spent so much time worrying the night before as in between the Lesser Broad-bordered Underwings and Small-fan-footed Waves was a White Ermine and flock of Bird Cherry Ermines. I was over the moon as this was the 17th millionth White Ermine I had seen and the Bird Cherries (or BC’s as we like to call them) were a great addition to my year list. 

 Above: Fluffy Wuffy

Onwards I went to the middle of town, feeling quite chuffed with myself, to stuff 10yoyos worth of hamburgers into me and engage in click and whistle conversations with the locals. 
Burgers down my neck, and then swiftly up again, it was time to get the secret weapon out of the boot of my little tank - Veda Bread, the Fuhrer’s favourite. Anybody with any sense knows to come prepared and any seasoned white-winged watcher knows that Veda Bread works the best because it’s made in Northern Ireland. I only had to crinkle the wrapper and suddenly they were everywhere – Common Waves and Common White Waves and, just as I’d hoped, a few Common Wave x Common White Wave hybrids. At one point I thought I had a Common White Wave x Common Wave x Common White Wave hybrid but the antennae were slightly too lobed and I had to put it down as a ‘Cabera spp.’ – it just shows you, you can’t win them all!

Above: Common White Wave x Common Wave x Common White Wave hybrid?

Things were going spiffingly so I decided to throw caution to the wind, finish the bottle of Kahlua, and head straight for the end of the quay. I couldn’t have timed it better as the fishing fleet was just returning and all around Muslin Moths were loafing on the water hoping for discarded bits of fish. Carefully scrutiny of these noisy flocks revealed no less than 3 Yellowtail, 4 Clouded Silver, a Spindle Ermine and 10 White Prominent (the latter turning out to be one of the commonest species by the end of the day).

 Above: Common as muck

I spent a few more hours around Killybegs finding, amongst other things, the nest of a Derk Charles but it was getting late and the sun was coming up. There was still time enough for one more tick – stepping into my car I noticed something on the wheel arch. What was it? Nothing but a White-shouldered House Moth!!! Not quite a white-winged but probably one of the commonest pieces of shit you’re ever likely to see! And it feeds on shit! – that puts it in the White-winged Hall of Fame for me – a truly great end to a mediocre day. All in all, not bad for a bloke who’s dead. Will I be back next year to Killybegs? No, I’ve seen them all and I’m bored now.

Above: Ivory Gull